Position battles are slowly being weeded out. First, the Texans went with the fourth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, Shayne Graham, over a fifth-round rookie, Randy Bullock.
Today, the Houston Texans decided on starting Derek Newton over Rashad Butler at right tackle for the season opener against the Miami Dolphins, per Houston Chronicle beat writer John McClain. Given that Newton started the past two preseason games, this move should not be too surprising.
Starting Newton makes sense from a couple of different angles. Butler, the 29-year-old veteran, is in the last year of his contract. You know what you will get from Butler as opposed to the 24-year-old Newton, who has a few more years left on his rookie deal. Newton has yet to hit his ceiling and will improve as he continues to adjust to NFL speed.
Newton also outplayed Butler all preseason. Butler had noted struggles with his cut-blocking and has a few lowlight plays where he was demolished in pass protection, supposedly his strength. Newton looked stronger in blocking on the move, screens and runs, and showed the athleticism to recover on pass protection. Needless to say, Newton has got to improve his arm use and footwork out of his stance to become a better pass blocker, but Newton has the athleticism and bend to become a great pass blocker.
There has been no word, as of this writing, about platooning Newton and Butler or how short a leash Newton will have, but we will update this story if Head Coach Gary Kubiak states that at his afternoon press conference.
Edit: It's official. Kubiak has announced that Newton will start at right tackle. (3:12 PM Houston Time)
Edit 2: Kubiak says there's no platoon at right tackle. The job is Newton's outright.
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